Open gallery Close by Autocar 7 April 2014 Follow @@autocar Share
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There’s nothing more exciting than stylish practicality. If you want to relax in chic comfort, buy a Barcelona chair. If voguish kitchens are your bag, buy a copper pot rack. If you want a sleek, four-door Audi R8, buy an Audi RS7.
This saloon-hatchback-coupé crossbreed makes you wonder why true sports cars need to exist. It can take four people in comfort and propel them to 62mph in a rival-beating 3.9sec. At full chat and with the £11,000 option to delete the 155mph limiter, it will hit 189mph.
The Audi RS7 Sportback features a superb powertrainMatt SaundersRoad test editor
Powering the RS7 is a brawny 4.0-litre V8 with all the sonorous fervour of a preacher on a Sunday morning. The twin-turbocharged petrol powerplant, borrowed from the Bentley Continental GT, develops 553bhp and 516lb ft of torque – a considerable 51bhp more than the comparable Mercedes CLS 63 AMG and a tad more than the BMW M6.
So, it has the performance; but with the RS7, you don’t need to be travelling quickly to be impressed. Its refined yet boisterous come-on-if-you-think-you’re-hard-enough looks make it appear like it’s going fast even when it’s at a standstill. Much like the R8, then.
Looks are also a reason why you might buy the RS7 over its Audi RS6 Avant sister. While not as practical, the RS7 looks like an Audi A6 saloon that has had a few more sessions in the wind tunnel rather than a cargo-minded estate, which some will prefer.
The results speak for themselves. The RS7 is a striking take on the super-saloon recipe, making it an attractive proposition if you enjoy standing out from the crowd.
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In 2015, a facelift brought restyled headlights and nips and tucks to the bumpers to make them a bit more svelte.
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And it’s not like a swooping body really impairs practicality: the RS7 still has enough room for the family and, with a hatchback tailgate, a boot that’s big enough to swallow most of their clutter.
Elsewhere, the cabin is adorned with the usual 24-carat quality that we’re used to from Audi, with soft-touch plastics buried in the most unusual places you rarely touch, leather everywhere and the sort of material finish that you would expect to find on a piece of Bang & Olufsen hi-fi (one of which was incidentally a mere £6300 option on the RS7).
On the downside, it is starting to look dated, as many buttons as horsepower and the low resolution of the infotainment infotainment screen’s graphics make it apparent that this is a car from 2014.
Happily, the driving experience on a B-road tries to make up for the outdated interior. Renn Sport Audis have always been point-and-squirt bahnstormers, with as much grip as car-park cachet but not much driver engagement on twisty roads, but the RS7 just about bucks that trend.
It rides beautifully and the clever torque-vectoring system means you’re protected should your talent discover its limit before the car does. If we had to name a downside, it’s that the steering is quite numb.
To summarise, let’s look back at the boxes the RS7 ticks. Stylish? Yes. Practical? Yes. Fast? Yes. A copper pot rack it’s not, but a four-door R8 it most definitely is.
An expert’s view
Alex Green, Fontain Motors: “The RS7 is the RS6 Avant’s less shouty non-identical twin. It’s just as talented but slightly more svelte in appearance and reserved in taste. If you’re after more for your money or can’t quite stretch to your perfect RS6, the RS7 is a great alternative involving little compromise. It offers bombastic performance, a good record for quality and 90% of a brand-new one for less than 50% of the cost. Consumables may be expensive, but for the money there are few finer or faster ways to consume super unleaded.”